Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How does the NFL lockout impact the draft?

The NFL lockout ended yesterday by a court ordered injunction.  Doors are open for players to return to work this morning, but this does not mean that business is back to usual.  The collective bargaining agreement expired so the teams and players are operating without any rules. 

What happens with free agency?  How will rookie contracts be structured?   

This Thursday the NFL will begin its annual selection of rookies while they appeal Judge Nelson’s decision to end the lockout in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  They are seeking a stay of execution during the appeals.  Basically they are hoping that the judge will postpone the lift of the lockout until a decision is made in appeals court.

In the meantime, the 2011 NFL Draft will go on as planned.  I think that the Carolina Panthers will make Cam Newton the first overall pick of the 2011.  However, I am more curious about what this draft would look like if the lockout had been lifted earlier.  

With a talented, 26-year old quarterback like Kevin Kolb on the market to be traded would a team give up a first round pick to get Kolb?  If a team lands a veteran like Ochocinco, would they feel the need to use an early pick on a wide receiver?

What do you think?


Heels & Helmets®

Monday, April 18, 2011

Time to go quarterback shopping?

I read something yesterday that reminded me that Brett Favre was 35 years old when the Green Bay Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 NFL Draft.  At that point Brett was still “the man.”  He had just completed a season in which he threw for over 4,000 yards and led the Packers offense to the fifth ranked team in the lead.  The defense was bad (23rd in the league); so, a lot of fans were disappointed to see Green Bay used their 24th pick on a quarterback.  Well, that quarterback did not play during the entire time Brett Favre remained in Green Bay.  He was learning and developing into a NFL quarterback.  Two years after he finally played his first NFL game, he led the Packers to a Super Bowl Championship and earned Super Bowl MVP honors.

This led me to think about the top two “young” starting quarterbacks of the last decade.  Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are 33 and 35 respectively; both are not showing any signs of slowing down.  However, time flies.  For the last couple of years we have heard a lot about the “old” 40 year old Brett Favre.  It makes it difficult to believe that he was the same age as Peyton when Green Bay started preparing for his replacement.

I think that there is something truly valuable about having a new team member learn under one of the best at their job.  This training helps the new team member and organization succeed. 

Should the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts follow Green Bay’s lead and begin preparing for their next quarterback? 


Heels & Helmets®

Monday, April 11, 2011

Potential rookies learn that the NFL is not a game

I know that it’s cliché to say it, but playing in a professional sports league is not a game; it is a business.  Potential NFL rookies hoping to be selected in this year’s draft class are learning that lesson before being selected to a team.  The NFL and NFLPA are still at an impasse over a new collective bargaining.  As the NFL prepares for its annual draft event, the future rookies are deciding if they should attend the draft in New York.

In response to a question about whether he would attend the NFL’s draft event, defensive lineman Marcell Dareus from Alabama, said that he had not made a decision, but would focus on him, not worry about what they have going on and let things come as they may.  I was perplexed by his reference to “they.”  I assume he meant the NFL and NFLPA, but was shocked that he found himself to be outside of the conversations.  I wonder how many other prospective NFL players have that perspective. 

As future NFL players, the potential draftees must realize that they are no longer college players aspiring to play in the league.  They are entering a career in the NFL.  This labor dispute is about “them” not “they.”  The results of the negotiations and ultimately new collective bargaining agreement will affect them.

I recognize that these are young men who have dreamed of reaching this stage for most of their lives.  Unfortunately, on the cusp of achieving one of their biggest goals, they are forced to decide whether or not they will experience that moment the way that they have always imagined.  This does not cancel the fact that the NFL locked out the players, including members of this year’s draft class.   

During the lockout players cannot have any contact with team owners and coaches.  As a result, NFL players like New York Jets quarterback, Mark Sanchez, are planning workouts of their own.  I believe that the incoming rookies should do the same thing with the draft and celebrate on their own. 

Playing football at the professional level is not simply about putting on pads and doing the best at your position.  It is a business.  Rookies from this class need to grasp that understanding early and stand with current players.  After all, if the labor dispute continues they will not have a rookie season this year.

Heels & Helmets®

Monday, April 4, 2011

I just want to talk about FOOTBALL, good grief!

I have not shared this with anyone, but I have been a little depressed.  Well maybe not depressed, but the headlines on football have my spirits a little down.  NFL lockout and players suing the league take up all of the news when I should be reading about trades, free agency and draft assessments.   I look to college football for some real gridiron action and find headlines about NCAA infractions, coaches being suspended and investigations.

Where is the real football talk?

I get it.  I have worked in college and professional sports, so I know that it is part of the game.  I do not expect that conversations about the game be void of the events related to the game. What happens off the field certainly has implications for results on the field.  I actually enjoy discussing the social and business issues related to the sport, however does it need to steal every headline?  Can we discuss the game? 

At this moment…
I could careless about Ochocinco playing soccer.  When I want to know what footballers are up to, I read about Cristiano Ronaldo or David Beckham.

I’m not really interested in Randy Moss Motorsports splitting with driver Mike Skinner.  I’d love to know which (if any) teams are considering the free agent for their receiving corps.

I would rather read early predictions about who will play in the Fiesta Bowl than read about the nonprofit organization’s CEO, John Junker, being fired for reimbursing employees for political contributions.

I would like to debate on where Auburn and Ohio State will land in the preseason top 25, not about which program the NCAA infractions committee will focus on.

On top of all of this, the weather has been cold and rainy in DC.  Not good for my already gloomy mood.  But, yesterday things changed.  The sun came out and my mood improved.  My smile began to widen when I remembered that Texas was playing their spring scrimmage.

I exhaled… Football… 

Not the drama surrounding football.  Real. Football.

The Texas Longhorns hosted their annual Orange and White Scrimmage yesterday afternoon in Texas Memorial Stadium.  It was Bryan Harsin’s debut as the Co-Offensive Coordinator for Texas.  He is the coach from Boise State that developed all of the trick plays that the team used to confuse defenses and garner national attention.  Yesterday fans saw the offense in fresh formations and reverse plays typical of Harsin’s style.  After a 5-7 finish last year, that is exactly what Longhorns wanted to see.   

There was not a clear distinction between the top two quarterbacks, Garrett Gilbert and Case McCoy, younger brother of former Texas and current Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy.   Head Coach Mack Brown does not plan to name a starter this spring because there is too much for everyone to learn with the new offense.  The pre-snap motion and trickery was fun to watch, but with players running into each other and inaccurate passes, it is evident that the Longhorns need to do some more work so that they don’t confuse the defense AND offense.  Overall, it seems as is Texas is off to a good start to compete in the shrinking Big 12.

Competing for the starting QB job.  A new offensive system.  Now that’s talking about football.

I’m better now.

Heels & Helmets®